G7 Summit: Kashmir and Trade on the Table as PM Modi Holds Sidebar With Donald Trump Today
US was one of India's strongest supporters in the closed consultations on Kashmir called at the behest of Pakistan's ally China at the UN Security Council.
French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France on August 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)
New Delhi: With Donald Trump referencing twice within a month his desire to 'mediate' in the Kashmir issue and US State Department later rephrasing it to 'ready to assist if desired', New Delhi and Washington look prepared to discuss the matter when the US President meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi a little after noon on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France on Monday.
US was one of India's strongest supporters in the closed consultations on Kashmir called at the behest of Pakistan's ally China at the UN Security Council. India had communicated that since the reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution, which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is an internal matter and had no bearing on the status of the Line of Control (LoC), issues can be bilaterally resolved between India and Pakistan as decided nearly five decades ago.
While both the US and France supported India's position, both countries gave a near-simultaneous call late last week to lift communication restrictions in Kashmir.
Speaking about the Modi-Trump meeting, a senior US official said on Saturday that "India’s decision to rescind Article 370 in Kashmir is an internal decision, but certainly with regional implications. And President Trump will likely want to hear how Prime Minister Modi intends to calm regional tensions in light of this significant move."
Responding to a query by News18, the US State Department had said, "The United States has a longstanding interest in reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and creating an environment conducive for dialogue.”
This clearly is reflective of the fact that as the US tries to conclude the Afghan peace process, it doesn't want other issues cropping up in the region that could have a bearing on it, an argument that has been driven largely by the narrative built by Pakistan. India has been maintaining that Pakistan is trying to portray an "alarming" picture by downgrading diplomatic ties, snapping people-to-people contact and whipping up a rhetoric on Kashmir globally.
Meanwhile, the US has also made it clear that a discussion on trade will also be on the table. Trump and Modi had decided in Osaka to reduce the friction by allowing trade teams to resolve issues. A meeting that was being planned for August-end between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is yet to take place. A USTR team had visited India in July, and according to CEO of US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), Dr Mukesh Aghi, the meeting went off smoothly with the hope that tariff issues can be resolved.
Some officials in the Indian government also believe that as Robert Lighhizer deals with the US-China trade war, India with its big market could be a direct beneficiary provided it manages to resolve its own issues with America.
Trump had recently in Pennsylvania said that he will pull out of the WTO, saying countries like China and India were taking advantage of the ‘developing countries’ tag, even though statistics show that the US has an upper hand in trade disputes being resolved in its favour at the World Trade Organisation.
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